Victoria State Opposition Reveals Election Promise of a ‘Strong’ IBAC and Ombudsman

The Victorian state opposition has revealed a pledge to increase funding for the state’s ombudsman and anti-corruption watchdog, to rebuild a “system of integrity and honesty in government”.

Under the opposition plan, the Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) would regain broader powers for public hearings.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said that under the pledge, the Coalition would inject an additional $10 million into the IBAC budget per year and increase funding for the Victorian Ombudsman by $2 million per year.

“We want to pay respect back to those integrity watchdogs, that’s what the Victorians expect us to do.”

“The National Liberal Party is focused on rebuilding our system of integrity and honesty in government and the Andrews government is focused on denigrating and defunding them.”

Requests for more funding for independent bodies are a perennial problem in Victoria, with both IBAC and the Ombudsman regularly saying they need more to operate strongly.

In last year’s budget, Treasurer Tim Pallas allocated $54 million for IBAC, an increase from previous years, and $20.2 million for the Ombudsman during fiscal year 2021-22.

Pallas will deliver his next budget on Tuesday.

Opposition Business Manager Kim Wells said the Liberal and national policy would also involve amendments to the Parliamentary Committees Act to allow the Joint Committee on Integrity and Oversight to have budget oversight.

“Never again will they be subject to the whim of the Labor government or any future government,” he said.

“It will mean that they will always be properly funded and will always be subject to proper parliamentary scrutiny.”

Guy said he would reverse an Andrews government move that meant most IBAC hearings are now being held in private.

He said this was done “to weaken IBAC oversight” and “to protect this government”.

Government already under scrutiny

Labor won the 2018 state election in a landslide, with polls suggesting the Coalition is unlikely to win the November 2022 vote.

But Guy’s election promise could shift the focus to integrity issues at a time when the government is already under scrutiny.

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